HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
What are your thoughts on the racist comment about QB Deshaun Watson made by a superintendent of schools in the Houston area? Are you aware of it?
"Yeah, I heard about it. I really don't want to waste a lot of time responding to outdated, inaccurate, ignorant, idiotic statements. I'll just let Deshaun's proven success on the field (and) his character off the field speak for itself. He's one of the greatest guys I've ever coached. He represents everything that's right about football, about life. His teammates respect him, his coaching staff respects him. In this day and age, it's just amazing that that BS exists, but it does. We're moving forward, and our fans, they love Deshaun and we're really concentrating on the Giants but I felt like I'd waste about – I think it was about a minute and a half responding to that BS."
What are your thoughts on Giants RB Saquon Barkley and much do you know about him as a person?
"He's built in such a way and he has such a way of playing that he's a very challenging player. He's hard to tackle, obviously, in the running game, but he's also used very well in the passing game. I think he has, in the first two games, what I've counted – and I probably missed a few – but about 50 touches in two games. He's an excellent player. People have talked about that I know him. I only met him one time. We played Michigan when I was at Penn State and he came to the game and I was fortunate enough to meet him there, but after that I don't really know him, but I sure do have a lot of respect for him."
WR DeAndre Hopkins and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. are some of the most acrobatic receivers you can find.
"Yeah, absolutely. That's a good way to describe them. They're different. Their playing styles are different but they both have great hands and they're great competitors. Beckham obviously poses a lot of challenges. They move him around. They play him at different spots, they use him in different ways and he's another guy that's had a lot of touches in the first two games."
How would you specifically describe WR DeAndre Hopkins and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s playing styles?
"I think you have to watch it on tape and just kind of tell for yourself."
Would you like to get the running backs more involved in the passing game or does that depend on the opposing defense's game plan?
"They're involved. I think it depends on how the game's going and what we've decided to do relative to how to use them in the passing game, if that makes sense. Maybe it's better to have them in protection sometimes than it is to have them out in the route, but especially Lamar (Miller) has done a good job really improving in the passing game. That's definitely part of what we'd like to try to do, but it's all dictated a little bit by how the game's going."
What's been the key to having rookies contribute in all three phases of the game so far?
"We feel good about that class. (Keke) Coutee hasn't been able to be out on the field yet but a lot of guys have really contributed and played key roles. It's hard as a rookie to make that jump from college to professional football, but we feel good about their work ethic, the way that they try to improve every day, and they're good players. There's a lot that they, obviously, have not experienced yet and that's how they're going to get better, but we really have a lot of faith in that draft class."
How much do position coaches play a role in getting rookies ready to play right away?
"It's really all of the position coaches, including Brad Seely and Tracy Smith and then all of the position coaches. Those are the guys that work with those guys the closest on a daily basis and get them out there early for practice, walk through some things, keep them late, keep trying to develop them. I think we've always done a pretty good job of developing players. That's what we need to keep doing."
Shane Lechler told Pat McAfee he felt disrespected when he was released. What are your thoughts?
"I just talked to Shane two nights ago, so I don't know what to tell you. I have great respect for Shane. It's hard. It's very hard decision that you have to make. Shane's one of the best punters to ever punt. I've said that time and time again. I consider Shane a friend, so I don't know what to say other than that."
What do you like about OLB Duke Ejiofor?
"There's a lot to like about Duke. Duke is a young player. He's got really good length, smart guy, tough guy. He's learning how to play the position that we're asking him to play. He's learning how to take care of his body so he can be out there to practice. He does show some skills that we really like."
OLB Duke Ejiofor is lighter now that he was in college. Is that something you asked him to do?
"I don't know where he's at right now, but yeah, just based on some of the things we're doing with him, including special teams, we asked him to get at a certain weight and I think it's a good weight for him."
Do you have any update on DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"Not really. I don't have too much of an update. It's too early in the week."
What does Giants QB Eli Manning do well?
"He's very smart, he's seen it all, accurate passer, does a great job of basically commanding the offense, getting people into the right positions, changing protections, changing the run game at the line of scrimmage. He's just a very bright player, two-time Super Bowl Champion, really challenging player to go against."
Do you think the pass rush has an opportunity to get going against the Giants after the Cowboys sacked QB Eli Manning six times?
"I think every week's different. I think, obviously, Dallas did a good job in that game of getting to the quarterback. We've got to make sure that No. 1, we stop the run. That's our deal every week. Then, when they drop back to pass, we've got to spin the dial. I think that's the big thing, too. Part of that is, every week, getting pressure on the quarterback. How you do that is another ball of wax but I think that's all part of what we're trying to do this week."
Were you encouraged by the passing game in the second half of last Sunday's game?
"Sure, yeah, I think there was a lot that was positive in the game. It's terrible to lose but there were a lot of positives in the passing game. (Deshaun Watson) had a 107 rating, which isn't too shabby, and he threw for 310. It's only his eighth start. I thought having Will (Fuller V) back was good, helped us a lot. (DeAndre) Hop(kins) battled like he always does, and Bruce (Ellington) did some good things. We've got to improve every day. We've got to take it one day at a time but we've got to continue to improve."
Is RB Lamar Miller noticeably quicker this season?
"I think he's done a lot to improve his skillset in the offseason. I really do. I don't know if I'd say he's much quicker or anything, but I think he's a little bit lighter and I think he's in really good shape. I would say this for (Alfred) Blue, I think they're both running very hard, which is good. They're doing a good job of getting the ball downhill or if it's an outside play, they're not wasting too much time before they stick that foot in the ground and get up inside. I think both guys are running well."
Does QB Deshaun Watson still commit 'rookie mistakes'?
"He doesn't make too many mistakes. Mistakes are made, really, on every play. You're striving for perfection on every single play. It's almost impossible to get that, but based on his experience, he's a rookie. Now, he's been here for a year and all of those things, but he hasn't played 16 games yet. There's a lot of things that you learn from experience and that's how you get better. There's no substitute for that. With that being said, I think he's really improved from Week 1 to Week 2 and I know he's going to work hard to keep getting better every day."
How has QB Deshaun Watson's skillset in the passing game helped the running game?
"There's a lot of things that he does based on his skillset – his running ability, his ball-handling back there is excellent. That really does help the running game. There's a lot of different things. We could be here all day, but just his playing style helps the running game."
What do you like about S Kareem Jackson playing cornerback?
"I think we have to think about that every week. Kareem has a lot of experience. He's one of our more versatile players on defense and he's a smart player, so it's easy to take him and say, 'Hey, you're a corner, you're a nickel, you're a safety.' He does some things for us on special teams, a very versatile player, but I think that will be a week-to-week decision that we make, but he has the skillset to be able to do both."
Do you expect CB Aaron Colvin to play more?
"I think Aaron has played solid for us, and I could see scenarios where he would be out on the field more, sure."
Do you expect TE Jordan Akins to become more involved in the passing game?
"He did some good things in the game the other day, really good things. He's getting better every single week, every day. He's another guy that works very hard. So, I could see his role increasing as we move forward, sure."
How important is it to get the pass rush going?
"I think you have to look closely at the pass rush. You have to look at what teams are doing against the pass rush, and that comes into where I was talking about coaching. We've got to continue to coach it up and try to free these guys up as best we can, but a lot of teams know – that pass rush is well-known – so they're not going to sit back there and hold the ball. So, the ball comes out pretty quickly when you have guys that can rush like ours do. There's different ways that you can disrupt that and things. We've got to continue to coach that and do a better job. We really feel like coaching is as much a part of everything as the execution on the field. Before you start really analyzing the pass rush, you really have to look at what the offense is doing. How are they max-protecting, chipping, getting the ball out quick, screens, things like that. We've got to continue to coach it up and see if we can keep getting better and better."
What have you seen from G Senio Kelemete and G Zach Fulton in the first two games?
"Both guys and Nick (Martin), Nick on the inside too, but all three of those guys with Senio and Zach since they walked in here, two really good pros, good leadership qualities, really understand our offense. Like everybody else, there's things that they can all improve on, like all of us, but they've definitely done a nice job overall on the inside."
How much of the cohesion of the offensive line and offense in general fall on C Nick Martin?
"In our system, a lot of it falls on the center. The center kind of directs everything after the quarterback. Really, the quarterback kind of gets us into the right looks and then the center kind of confirms everything. He's the captain of the ship up front."
Are you concerned about OLB Whitney Mercilus' limited production thus far?
"No concern at all. I really want to stay away from built-in excuses and things like that. I think you'll see improvement every week from Whitney. All of those guys that haven't played football in a long time, you'll see improvement. There's no concern. He feels good. I think everybody in this building knows that we all have to do a better job and we're all trying to do that."
Do you believe in the cliché of must-win games?
"You look at every game that way. It's just the way it is in this league, so you just try to get everybody on the same page and try to go out there and win a game every week. That's what you're trying to do."
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
What makes WR Odell Beckham Jr. so special?
"I think the catch-and-run aspect of it. Obviously, he can go over top of you, but he can catch it and run, take a slant 80, 90 yards also. He's a competitor."
What were your thoughts when you heard the superintendent's racist comments about QB Deshaun Watson?
"You'd think in this day and age, in 2018, you probably wouldn't be hearing any comments like that, but for whatever reason that's the world we live in. Sometimes, that's just the way it is. Everybody's not built that way or have that opinion, but I think any time you have a guy make an opinion like that and then come out and make a statement behind it, I think the apology wasn't sincere when you make a comment like you thought it was private message or something like that. I think that makes you look even more silly than the whole statement itself, me personally."
How have you learned to deal with ignorant racism and not let it affect you?
"You have to. It's a very different world we live in nowadays with social media and everything like that. I've been growing up in different backgrounds. I've had white friends, Asian friends all my life from the time I was very small at a young age, so I never saw color when I was young. I think, for whatever reason, people do that. Maybe it's a background thing or just a tradition or whatever it may be, but I think in 2018, there's not a place for it, but that's the world we live in."
Do you think the superintendent should be fired for his comments?
"That's not my call to make. I think he's a guy that's in that situation overlooking kids and things like that. I think something should be done because how can you be fair and unbiased if you have that in your background and DNA?"
QB DESHAUN WATSON
What are your thoughts on the racist comment about you made by a superintendent of schools in the Houston area?
"That's on him. May peace be with him. I worry about me, so I'm not worried about what he has to say."
What did you think about when you heard it?
Do you experience racism as a quarterback?
"Of course. That's just everyday life, I guess. But, I'm all about love, so I don't have none of that. I don't focus on none of that. I love all people and that's what I focus on."
How did you develop that mentality?
"Like I said, it's part of life. I can't control what other peoples' beliefs are. I can control what I can control. So, I just focus on me and that's it."
Do you think the superintendent should be fired?
"That's not my job. I don't make that decision."
How well do you know WR Odell Beckham Jr. and what do you think of him and WR DeAndre Hopkins and how they compare?
"I know Odell. He's a great guy off the field, but a talented athlete on the field. A guy that brings a lot excitement and juice to that team. Same with Hop. He does the same thing for our team. Great guy off the field and brings a lot of excitement and makes great plays for our team. They're just two of the best receivers in the game."
In the preseason and first two weeks of the regular season you've thrown some downfield interceptions. Are those risks you feel like you have to take and that it's worth the risk?
"I don't have no regret from throwing those. You live and you learn, shot plays, throwing it to my guy, try to give him a chance. The other team made plays. They get paid just like we do, they're professional athletes, so we'll continue to do what we do and whatever OB (Bill O'Brien) asks me to do."
Since you've made just eight starts, do you ever still feel like a rookie?
"I don't feel like a rookie, but even guys that – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, they'll tell you the same thing with this position in this league, you always learn. Every week is a learning process. You're never comfortable, you're never where you want to be. So, every week is a learning process and I'm seeing something different, seeing something new, trying to adjust and trying to get better and try to keep it on my mind for the next time I see it, and try to improve from it."
What is your mentality when you come into the building on Monday morning?
"I keep the same energy, regardless if we're, like you said, 0-2 now or if we would have been 2-0, same energy. High quality, come in, try to learn from the tape and then focus on the next opponent. Can't get ahead of ourselves and can't look back on the previous games. You got to focus on that day and today's Wednesday, and focus in on the game plan and try be the best we can today, and then we'll focus on tomorrow when it comes."
Do you feel like you learn things every time you step on the field?
Can you elaborate on some of the things you learn?
"Everything, really. Different coverages, different decision-making, different situations, how receivers react to different coverages, how my O-line is getting on the same page, so, it's everything. Every week is a new test and we just got to go from just focusing on that task and try to improve from there."
When it comes to pass protection and reading defenses, how much does that take a constant communication between you and the offensive line?
"That's every day, every week. Like I said before, it's never a period of time throughout the career where you're just constantly, 'Oh, you got it'. There's always something new, there's always something you got to communicate with. Like I said before, the other team that we're going against are professional athletes and getting paid and watch film, too. So, they're scheming up, trying to find ways to stop us, and we're trying to find ways to stop them. That's just every day, every week. It's a new test, a new task, and there's never a comfortable position or spot where you can just say that you got it. You always got to stay on your toes and stay on your Ps and Qs."
WR Will Fuller V and WR DeAndre Hopkins both had over 100 yards receiving, did you feel like in the second half the passing game started to click a little more?
"Yeah, we were just on the same page. We started off fast in the second half and we weren't shooting ourselves in the foot. Outside of that, we don't stop ourselves and we're all on the same page, then we'll be just fine and we can do some things."
How close do you feel like you guys are to where the offense was at this time last year?
"We can't compare to last year. Last year was – that's a totally different offense, totally different year, different game. So, we just got to focus on this year and this moment now. We know we're close to where we really want to be. This league is an improvement league. It's a race to see who gets the best by Week 16. Right now we're in Week 3 so we have to focus on this week, try to improve from Week 2 and continue to focus on that. We can't look ahead and we can't try to strive for something we're not at yet. When Week 16 comes, then we'll talk about then, but right now we got to focus on just improving from Week 2 and keep moving forward."
Did you and Head Coach Bill O'Brien talk about how the last play of the Titans game could've been handled better?
"For sure. We talked about it. We talk about it Monday, we talked about it yesterday and then we put it in the past. It's a play that we're going to learn from and next time the situation comes, we know how to handle it and how we really want to handle it. So, plays like that happen and we just have to, like I said, continue to learn and grow from it."
What does WR DeAndre Hopkins do for this team?
"Everything, pretty much. There's nothing that he can't do, really."
You're not used to losing, how are you dealing with it?
"It's new to me. But, I'm learning as I grow and as I get older and the more time I continue to play in this league. But, just got to put it in the past (and) have a short mentality. A coach used to always tell me, 'Snap and clear,' regardless if it's good or bad. So, just put it in the past, learn from it and just continue to move on and try to get a win this week."
How many games did you lose from your senior year of high school through college?
"From my senior year of high school through college, maybe three. Maybe three. About three, four at the most but I know not more than five, yeah for sure. So, it's very, very new, but it's a long year. We'll try to get a win and take it one game at a time."
DE J.J. WATT
Are you aware of the superintendent that said you can't count on a black quarterback?"
"I saw a headline. That's all I saw. I don't think it deserves any attention from any of us. I think it's a very ignorant comment that doesn't deserve anymore play than it should get. Very unfortunate, but I trust him. I trust him a whole lot, we all trust him a whole lot. So, I don't think anybody that speaks like that, should get anymore run than they, they shouldn't get any run. It's ridiculous."
What are your thoughts on how you guys can get your pass rush going?
"We have to go out there and play our game and do what we do. We obviously have some guys that can get after it, but we need to put ourselves in situations where we can get after it. You have to be good on first and second down to get into good third-down situations. We have to put ourselves in position to have success and then we need to go out there and execute to be successful."
What do you see from Giants RB Saquon Barkley?
"He's a very good player. Obviously, he had an incredible college career and some of things he's been able to do. He's a guy that's – he can break it at any time. He's very tough to bring down on the first tackle. I think you'll notice that rarely does he get taken down by the first guy to hit him, which is impressive. So, we know he has big-play capabilities, just like Odell (Beckham Jr.) does on the outside. They have weapons. Everybody has to know their job, do their assignment and take care of business one play at a time."
Do you see any similarities between WR Odell Beckham Jr. and WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"I think they're both really good receivers, I see that. I know they both can catch anything you throw their way. I know they both find a way to get open and find a way to make catches that 99 percent of people wouldn't be able to make, so they're obviously special playmakers, both of them."
After getting two games under your belt, do you feel like you're getting back to your old self?
"I think it's continued to progress. I think I start to feel more and more comfortable as we go. I think this game was a lot better than last game for me. It's a continued grind to get it back to where I want to be and I think it's going in that direction. I felt good out there and I feel good about continuing to work. That's the beauty of this league, is that it's week to week and it's who can improve the fastest and who can get better the fastest. Obviously, with myself coming off the last two years I had, I need to improve more and more and quicker and quicker to try and get myself back where I want to be. But, I felt good last game and really looking forward to another week of work to continue to improve and get even better for this week."
After all you've been through, do you allow yourself to have fun?
"When we win I will. It's not fun when you lose. It doesn't matter how good you play or how good you feel. Like I said, I feel good out there, I'm starting to play the way I want to play, but if we don't win, it doesn't matter. I don't care how good I play. I could have 20 sacks in the game, if we lose, I'm not happy. That's just the way it goes. I want to get back on the winning track and I want to, especially here at home, give these fans a show they deserve."
Is it frustrating when teams choose game plan specifically against you in the way that the Titans didn't drop back or do you appreciate the way you're able to impact the game and make them change their game plan?
"It's always frustrating, there's no question about it. Obviously, I'd love a one-on-one or just give me a free run every time, that'd be great. But, you know that you're not going to get that. I've never got it, from the second year of my career until now, so, you just deal with it. You do what you can, you find ways, and then like I said, generally, there's going to be at least one or two times a game where somehow you find yourself in a one-on-one and you have to take advantage there. And, you also have to have guys around you who can take advantage. But, it's a part of the challenge, and it's always been a challenge and it always will be a challenge. I welcome that challenge and it's just like Odell (Beckham Jr.) or Hop (DeAndre Hopkins), they got guys doubling them all the time. It happens with the players in this league. So, you have to just go out and play as hard as you possibly can and take advantage when you get the right opportunity."
What goes through your mind when you see that you have a one-on-one matchup?
"'Let's go.' That's what you look for. Trust me, I lose plenty of one-on-one matchups, too. It's not like I win every one-on-one. I get blocked plenty of times. I've always said, any guy in the league, no matter how good or bad he is, you can make a highlight reel to make him look like the best player in the league or you can make a lowlight reel to make him look like the worst player in the league. But, when I get a one-on-one, I expect myself to win. Like I said, I don't do it every time, but I expect myself to win and I expect my teammates to expect me to win. I know if I'm fortunate enough to get in that situation, it's my job to make the play."
Can you talk about QB Eli Manning?
"Obviously, his track record in the league speaks for itself. He's a multiple Super Bowl champion, he's had an extremely successful career and he's got weapons around him. So, we just need to do our best to put them in situations where we can get after the passer and hopefully get up in his face and make him feel uncomfortable because if you allow him to feel comfortable back there, he's a guy with a great arm who can put the ball where he wants to. So, we need to make him feel uncomfortable when we can."
As a pass rusher, are you excited to play against a guy like QB Eli Manning?
"No, I like any quarterback. Any kind, I don't care."
The defense hasn't allowed a second-half touchdown in two games. Is that a credit to the halftime adjustments or what do you think goes into that?
"There's probably many things involved. Obviously, our coaches do a great job at halftime of getting us prepared for the second half. I think we settle down a lot as the game goes on. I think we come out and we settle down a lot as we progress through the first half and then into the second half. But, I don't know. Hopefully, we can keep that up and hopefully, we can – we want to try and take the ball away and maybe put up some points on defense, whatever we need to do. We want to continue to try and not give up touchdowns. That would be a good trend to keep going."
Even when you're not a part of a play, do you feel the impact that you have on the defense?
"I don't know. You look at the game plan last week that the Titans had, obviously they worked to put something together there. I'm fortunate to have a ton of great players around me. I have guys all over the field that can make plays. So, if you're going to try and game plan for one guy, you're going to have to deal with 10 others who are really, really good football players. I'm really lucky to have that and I love playing with these guys and I love flying around and having fun. It's a great group. Like I said, if I have to be the guy that takes two or three guys on so that other guys can make plays, I'm more than happy to do that. It's a team game."
You're a fan of all the teams here, the Astros are moving closer to a second division title, what do you think about that?
"I think that would be great. Those guys are a lot of fun to watch. They have a lot of fun together as a group, I know that. So, it's great. Last year's run was a blast, an absolute blast. Hopefully, they can go on and do it again. I know that during my rehab, that was a time that helped lift me up the most, when I got to go out there and throw the pitch at the World Series and got to see those guys and the fans. That was pretty early in my recovery. I was still on crutches, so that was a moment where I was going through some tough times and they helped lift me up. I hope they go and do it again."
What do you think about 'The Stare' and all of the stuff they do on the field when they win?
"I think it's great. Hopefully, we can start doing some cool stuff when we win."
Speaking of teammates, what is it like to pay with NT D.J. Reader?
"He's been great. He leads the team in sacks from the nose guard position, so I need to start doing my job a little better. I've said it time and time again, he's the best nose guard in the league. He does his job, he knows what his job is, he does it really, really well, he works very hard. You'll see him chasing down screens down the sideline. For as big of a guy as he is, he moves so well. He works his ass off. I'm fortunate to have a nose guard like that who can make plays. Like we were talking about before, if they want to double team the edges or they want to chip the edges, you got a guy that can get two sacks up the middle from the nose guard position. That's pretty rare to find, so we're lucky to have him."